Looking for My Ticket to Wonderland

My friend Mike, who got me my first teaching job at Babson College in 1997, is in town today to lead a day-long accounting course in a fast-track MBA program. It’s primarily an online course but includes in-class components. Mike is a born teacher–he possesses a seemingly innate ability to break a problem into comprehensible parts–and enjoys teaching both in-person and online.

I’m very curious about the possibilities of online education. Reading a recent article in the NYTimes about Massive Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”) was like a big gulp of Kool-Aid. While the power to reach under-served populations, to impart knowledge to those who want to acquire it for its own sake, and to use technology that requires students to engage with the material are appealing, this passage truly hooked me:

[Stanford research professor and Google Fellow Sebastian] Thrun was enraptured by the scale of the course, and how it spawned its own culture, including a Facebook group, online discussions and an army of volunteer translators who made it available in 44 languages.  “Having done this, I can’t teach at Stanford again,” he said at a digital conference in Germany in January. “I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill, and you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.”

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